Why Leaves Change Color


While you’re enjoying the fall foliage, don’t forget about preparing your yard for winter.

The leaves in Southeastern Pennsylvania are starting to change fast and driving around we are treated to some awesome fall colors. Many different experts give their opinions as to when our leaves will reach their peak and what kind of show they would put on. But for many of us, it simply is an ‘ordinary’ spectacle that we eagerly anticipate every year.

What is actually taking place in each leaf?

When the days are warm and sunny and the night time temperature drops to 45 degrees but stays above freezing, the chlorophyll disappears in the leaves. The shorter days signal the trees to cut off the water supply to the leaves. The leaves change color because of the carotenoid in each leaf. It seems the colors are there all the time but are hidden by the chlorophyll, and when the chlorophyll breaks down, it causes the green color to disappear.

Usually one can identify a tree by its fall color: beech and ash leaves will turn a purplish bronze; Norway maple leaves will turn yellow; sugar maple leaves turn red; aspen leaves will turn a shimmering gold and the white oak leaves will turn a purplish brown.

Have you ever noticed a leaf with green veins, and the body of the leaf is yellow or orange? Here, the chlorophyll is still hanging around those veins, but has departed the rest of the leaf, allowing the colors to show. When about half of the chlorophyll is degraded, red pigments are synthesized, and we are treated to another layer of beautiful colors.

Botanists have explained this technical fall foliage information for years. But then there’s always the Jack Frost’s explanation for coloring the leaves. He supposedly spent the fall nights dashing from tree to tree painting the leaves.

Either way, it’s an amazing miracle and one we get to enjoy it every year. But we also know what’s coming…a cold, snowy winter.

Fall color.  Photo Credit: Pixabay

Fall color. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Is your lawn and landscape ready for winter?

Whitehouse Landscaping can help get your yard ready for winter. Our maintenance services are tailored to your specific needs and vision for your yard. Fall landscaping services include planting trees and shrubs, leaf removal, pruning trees & shrubs, weed removal and re-edging beds. Contact Whitehouse Landscaping now or call us at 484-300-4290 to discuss your fall landscape preparation.